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Israel's Female Boxing champion

  On Saturday, 20 January, the "Global on Saturday" programme of BBC Radio 5 Live   broadcast an interview with Sharon Friedman Turner, Israel's Women's Featherweight Boxing Champion. 

Benedicte Paviot, one of Global's regular presenters, was the interviewer. The interview is reproduced below.

BP: She's forty years old, and she's a mother of four so Sharon Friedman Turner is an unlikely boxer. If that isn't enough to convince you, she also happens to be an ultra orthodox Jew, who practices law in Jerusalem. In her spare time she defends the title of featherweight champion of Israel.

SFT: When I box, I come away with such a feeling of power. It's hard to describe but you just feel that you are on top of the world. You're so strong, you're so sure of yourself, so confident, so...so happy and powerful and it's an enormous feeling of being alive, being full of energy. It's great.

BP: Would you like to see other women in your faith take up boxing?

SFT: I would like to see a lot of other women take up boxing whether they're in my faith or not. When you box, it gives you a feeling that you can do anything. It takes away fear. I really feel that fear is...I call it the number one killer of women.

BP: Why? In what way?

SFT: Well, I think women are generally physically afraid even if they're not conscious of it. We live our lives in a kind of state of fear. Perhaps we're not aware of that fear but, when it's lifted from us, all of a sudden you feel completely different.

BP: So you feel liberated?

SFT: Absolutely. It's a freedom.

BP: What about the men in you're family? Do they feel threatened by you?

SFT: Oh, no, no. Not at all.

BP: You say that very convincingly.

SFT: Oh, no. Well, my husband is first of all a great athlete himself and was a great fighter himself.

BP: Have you never been tempted to punch anybody's lights out - a man that annoys you - then?

SFT: No. I think knowing that you're strong gives you a sense that you don't have to or you don't want to. In fact, there are times where I'm really angry or really upset but I'll go in the gym in the morning and I'll see that bag in front of me and sometimes like picture different people on the bag and maybe this sounds violent or horrible but sometimes I just picture their heads kind of, you know...you know, I just picture them like a big water melon and, by the time I get out of the gym, I'll see that person on the street and I'll smile and say "Hi!" and it's all gone. All the anger and all the hostility and all the aggression and all the rage has been let out and I feel this calm and peace.

BP: How did you become a boxing champion?

SFT: I really started more as exercise because it was such a great workout but soon I became totally hooked. I loved it so much and I got better and better and then to the point where I really wanted to compete but felt that you don't get a chance to test yourself unless you go up and go into the ring and you're actually fighting an opponent. 

BP: Do others of the ultra orthodox faith frown upon your activities in the boxing ring?

SFT: Interestingly enough, I haven't had any negative feedback. I've only had encouragement. Maybe that's just because I'm so far from the norm that people don't really even know what to make of me. So I haven't had any real disapproval. There are laws of modesty and I guess there's a way of presenting yourself that I think that as long as you do it in the right way, in the right spirit....

BP: Do you have a nickname as a boxer?

SFT (laughs): Well, my brothers gave me the name when I was young - and it kind of stuck with me - which was "Sharkbite". But I haven't really used that officially. But I may. That's something that they always said. "Once Sharon took a bite out of you, you were never quite the same".

BP: Sharon Friedman Turner, who says once tensions in the middle east ease, she hopes to organize a "fight for peace" where Jews and Arabs will compete against each other in the boxing ring.

Copyrighted interview by 5 Live. All rights reserved. A special thanks to Paul Waters of Radio Live 5 for allowing WBAN to publish this interview and Jon Fox for locating this interview!


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                                        WBAN (WOMEN BOXING ARCHIVE NETWORK) Copyrighted MAY 1998